Miller-Driscoll moves past half-way point

Jeannette Ross photos
Work on the Miller-Driscoll renovation project is nearly two-thirds complete, and significant changes will be evident when students return to school on Sept. 6. But some things will appear not to have changed much at all. That is because further work will take place over the coming year, with 100% completion targeted for the beginning of school in 2017.

Construction this summer has been ongoing, with an average of 185 workers on site each day. A second shift of workers to focus on painting will be added next week, according to project manager Mike Douyard of Turner Construction.

Douyard conducted a site tour Thursday, July 28, for some members of the building committee and the media.

Along for the tour was Chris Burney, the town’s director of energy and facilities management. Standing near the school’s front entrance, where the new bus loop is under construction, he said, “We are only just halfway through construction for the summer and that’s after the new addition.”

He pointed out the work is being done in phases “so it can still function as a school. There will be more major work next summer.’

“We strive to take on more [work] so there will be less disruption” further on, Douyard said. “We’ve taken on a tremendous amount.”

With teachers slated to come back Aug. 30, he said as each area of the school is finished movers will come in to put things back in place. At first, he said, “the classrooms will look like the last few days of the school year.  … The grounds will be ready to play on.”

Classrooms that were used last year will be ready in September with new finishes. Second graders will be back in the temporary classrooms where they will stay for the full school year. Pre-K students will not move into their area right away and Douyard said it is up to the administration where they will be assigned.

The pre-kindergarten students will eventually be in classrooms with multi-colored windows in the lower level of the new addition, expected to be finished in October.

Douyard also showed off the new first- and second-grade classrooms, which can accommodate 24 students with their teacher. Most of the rooms had elevated windows along the exterior wall, ending in a large window that extends from the floor to the ceiling.

Computer desks will run under the windows, and the adjacent wall will be outfitted with a SMARTboard and white board. Each room will also have upper and lower cabinets and a drinking fountain.

First- and second-grade bathrooms will be in the halls, while pre-K and kindergarten students will use bathrooms within the classrooms.

Each section of the school will have color-coordinated walls, floors and lockers depending on grade level.

Also in various stages of completion were the new kitchen and cafeteria and spaces for those providing support services such as psychologists and speech therapists.

In March, Miller-Driscoll students left their handprints and names on several steel beams. These have been incorporated into the project and part of the support for the new art room. They will not be exposed, but they are part of the building.

Outside, some of the copper siding was in place, with other areas outfitted in plywood that will also be covered in copper.

Another big change will begin next week, Douyard said. With hazmat abatement and other preparatory work completed, the old pre-kindergarten building will start to come down.